And there stands And There Stand Empires, one of Tulsa’s best new bands.
Bumping around at Norman Music Festival 4, Tulsa rock photographer Jeremy Charles told me not to miss indie-rock dudes And There Stand Empires. In all the buzz and hubbub of about 8 million bands all playing in three days, I completely blanked, which I now regret, having viewed the video below.
The band releases its self-titled album Dec. 16, and you can bet that I’ll be looking for somewhere to purchase it when I return home to Tulsa for Christmas. The video includes snippets of songs and plenty of footage of the band hashing them out in-studio. Jarod Evans and Chad Copelin of Blackwatch Studios both appear to have produced it, but the thing to watch for here is just how many notes (guitar, xylophone, piano) they can squeeze into a single section of music.
Download a bunch of free music for your holiday season.
Sorry to have waited so long to provide you, noble OKSee reader, with quality tunes for your Christmahannukwanzika season, but I figured that the Blackwatch Studios and Nice People compilations would tide you over until I could find a spare couple of minutes to compile all the festive stuff that’s filled up my inbox like a stocking since about mid-November.
Highlighting this little collection is a pleasant surprise that The Nghiems’ front man, David Nghiem, just sent, called “Holiday in the OK.” He recorded it at Blackwatch with Will Hunt, James Nghiem (also from The Nghiems), Tyler Hopkins (The Nghiems, Black Canyon), Chad Copelin (Blackwatch) and Gazette contributor Becky Carman. It sounds like a lazy, perfect holiday spent with your family. Love it.
I don’t give two snowballs about anything else in this song, it’s by Guided by Voices and opens with the lyrics “Start off the day with a Krispy Kreme doughnut / Sweet as life can get.” New favorite for the holidays.
I really, really, really want to hear Tom Waits take a stab at this one. I suppose Red Wanting Blue will have to do.
Merge Records — “Winter Sampler” OK, none of these songs appear to have anything to do with the holidays, but they’re from Eleanor Friedberger, The Mountain Goats, Superchunk, Wild Flag, Archers of Loaf and the rest of the usual Merge suspects. And oh, lookie there — you can nab free Christmas tunes from She & Him and Julian Koster down at the bottom of the page!
My OKSee predecessor, Stephen Carradini, and I received hundreds of physical copies submitted to our little cubicle in the back of the Gazette offices this year, in addition to the hundreds of digital solicitations from PR companies, in addition to the occasional, much-appreciated, personal hand-changing of musical media, be that CD, vinyl or yes, even cassette tape.
It’s a ton of music to listen to, but we were up to the task. The sonic wheat’s now sorted from the chaff, and not in any particular order. So peruse our list for those quality albums you may have missed, recall a few you’ve forgotten and hopefully even find a new artist to love in the process. Let’s get started.
Norman-based indie recording project Two Suns just announced a novel release model for a very promising album. “Dream Familiar” will be released at the rate of one song a week at the group’s Bandcamp page.
Opener “Ran Wild” is a pretty compelling six minutes of Radiohead-style ambient guitars (think slowed-down take on “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”’s swirling sound) with tribal and drum ’n’ bass rhythmic patterns. Toss in a breakdown with some cooing, shoegazey lyrics and we’ve got ourselves a neat little art project. Listen:
Rock Matt Carney
Lemma’s self-titled full-length crackles to life with a big ol’ baritone
and spaghetti-Western guitar — a brief harbinger of a rock album that
draws its influence from a wide range of artists, R.E.M. chief among
Free music for you from The Rapture, Laura Gibson and a bunch of artists in ol’ Norman-town.
Economy — “Winter Recording Fiasco” I have no idea what Economy is, nor anything more about the “Winter Recording Fiasco” than what the musical collective posted to its Bandcamp page, but judging by that information, it’s the Zanzibar! Records folks exploring their weirdness.
These songs are droning and creepy, pulsing with what sounds like bass keyboard and rhythmic lyrics like “keep the species alive.” They’re also topical enough to title a song after a certain dictator of North Korea, recently deceased.
The Rapture — “Sail Away” remixes While The Rapture’s full-length fell a little more flat than I’d hoped, it had a couple of standout singles, and “Sail Away” was one of them. Cut Copy gives a signature tribal contribution, Aeroplane’s starts out sparse before blowing up into a full-on house rave, and Cosmic Kids win the award for choppiest chop-up. Their spacier, hypnotic take, complete with long-echoing, mixed-up vocals is about as different from the original as you can get. Thanks, DFA Records!
Laura Gibson — “La Grande” Plaintive, pretty singer/songwriter Laura Gibson visits Opolis in February with Breathe Owl Breathe. Take this opportunity from NPR to get to know her.
What immediately grabbed me about this song was the cheesy, Grandma-giving-the-thumbs-up art, which initially triggered what I call a “whack-novelty” reaction deep within my brain. Then the track kicked in and I got all excited for his forthcoming album, “Probably Flaws.” Dude’s got skill, and it’s fun listening to him dance around the melody on the “Birthday Sex” sample. As solid a local hip-hop track as I've heard in a while.
Listening to female minimalist vocal trio Mountain Man is more than a little awe-inspiring. Their a cappella harmonizing layers and interweaves upon itself, knitting an old-fashioned sonic patchwork.
Actually watching them perform, however, compares to looking up at a family of well-trained acrobats at the circus, back-flipping off tightropes, tossing and catching each other while the trapeze zooms around the tent.
And they’re kinda cute, sweaty hipster chicks, so that’s nice, too. Here’s “Holy Father,” performed impromptu in a tunnel at this year’s Newport Folk Festival.